Best Movies Expanded from TV Shows, Ranked

TV shows are obviously made for television: to be watched and aired for an audience to follow episode after episode. Some TV shows garner enough success for people to demand a feature film. Whether it’s a film that’s an extension of the show like Trailer Park Boys: The Movie or it’s totally separate from the show like the film remakes of Charlie’s Angels, many TV shows have been remade for the silver screen.

That said, not every show deserves a movie extension. For example, the ever-popular show of the 70s Baywatch was remade into a movie starring Zac Efron and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. This movie was mediocre at best, not offering much in terms of substance. On the contrary, there are plenty of films that have gained more success than their TV counterparts. These are the best movies expanded from TV shows, ranked.

Related: These Are the Longest-Running Series in Television History

8 The Muppet Movie

ITC Entertainment

The TV show The Muppet Show was first aired in 1976 featuring the iconic characters of Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy on their own variety show. The show garnered so much success and popularity that it led to a number of films, the first of which being The Muppet Movie, released in 1979, while the show was still on the air. The Muppets franchise features over ten films with a number of great stars making appearances throughout the films, including Billy Connolly and Tim Curry. The show even received a small one-season revival called The Muppets, but was not nearly as successful as the movies or the original show.

7 Charlie’s Angels

Columbia Pictures

Charlie’s Angels revolves around three private detectives given cases by the mysterious “Charlie” over the speakerphone. The original show starred Kate Jackson, Farrah Fawcett, and Jaclyn Smith as the main characters, while John Forsyth was the voice of Charlie. The show’s staggering popularity led to a film franchise being launched in 2000 with the first film Charlie’s Angels starring Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz, and Lucy Liu as they take on a dangerous case to find Eric Knox, responsible for developing a voice-recognition software. This version of Charlie’s Angels is an updated version of the original show and was met with mixed reviews.

6 Batman

Batman is a long-running franchise including a number of TV shows, movies, and video games. That said, everything starts somewhere and Batman began with a 1960s live-action TV show starring Adam West as Batman. While the series only ran for three seasons it kickstarted the Batman franchise and while Tim Burton’s Batman is not the first Batman movie, it was the first film of the Warner Bros. Batman film series. It tells the story of Bruce Wayne struggling with his morality as a vigilante when he encounters the man who murdered his parents. Starring Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson, Batman was subject to a great deal of praise, especially for Tim Burton’s interpretation of the characters in a much darker light than its cartoony predecessors.

5 Get Smart

Get Smart was originally a TV series parodying the spy genre, including the James Bond films, following the antics of Maxwell Smart AKA Agent 86 who is totally inept as a secret agent. The series eventually received a film reboot in 2008 starring Steve Carell as Maxwell Smart and Anne Hathaway as his much more competent partner Agent 99. The film follows Smart’s journey from former analyst to field agent as CONTROL needs all the help it can get when their identities are exposed to the public. Get Smart was a commercial success and won the Teen Choice Award for Summer Comedy.

4 Sex and the City

Sex and the City was an HBO drama-comedy show following the life of sex columnist Carry Bradshaw and her three friends Samantha, Charlotte, and Miranda. The show ran from 1998 to 2004 and earned seven Emmy Awards over its run on TV. The show’s popularity and success resulted in a film being released in 2008 simply called Sex and the City. The film follows Carrie as she plans for her wedding to Mr. Big while her friends’ lives have moved on, each in a different direction, but not everything goes according to plan. The film was nominated for a number of awards and took home the BMI Film Music Award for Aaron Zigman’s original score.

Related: Iconic Fashion Moments in Sex and the City, Ranked

3 Downton Abbey

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Downton Abbey was a six-season miniseries based on the novel by Julian Fellowes. It followed the lives of the Crawley family and their struggle to keep their title and estate while searching for an heir. The show was wildly successful and won a plethora of awards, so it only makes sense that the series be made into a film. The film of the same name was released in 2019 and follows the staff and Crawleys as they prepare for a visit from the King & Queen, but something goes terribly wrong when an uninvited guest arrives. The film was subject to a great deal of praise and has even managed to spawn a sequel called Downton Abbey: A New Era.

2 Mission: Impossible

It may surprise you to hear that the famous Tom Cruise Mission: Impossible franchise is based on the Mission: Impossible TV show which ran from 1966 to 1973. The show’s popularity led to the inception of the Mission: Impossible film franchise based on the Impossible Missions Force/ IMF, creating new and dangerous missions. The Mission: Impossible franchise began in 1996 and has continued, totaling six films, as of 2022. While the cast of the TV show reacted negatively to the film expansion of the show, its popularity overruled any negativity. While the Mission: Impossible franchise already has a number of installations, it doesn’t appear that there is an end in sight. Mission: Impossible 7 and Mission: Impossible 8 are already planned to be released in 2023 and 2024 respectively.

1 21 Jump Street

A favourite to many is the buddy cop action film 21 Jump Street, featuring Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill. The pair strike an unlikely friendship during their police training and the pair goes undercover at a high school to find a supplier of the new deadliest drug. This was a modern remake of the TV show 21 Jump Street which starred Johnny Depp in his debut role and Peter DeLuise as his partner. As an homage to the original show, Depp and DeLuise make an appearance at the end of the film, revealing themselves to be DEA who’s been undercover for years. The film was a box-office hit and led to the sequel 22 Jump Street.

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